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Is Religiosity of Immigrants a Bridge or a Buffer in the Process of Integration? A Comparative Study of Europe and the United States


  • García-Muñoz, Teresa

    () (Universidad de Granada)

  • Neuman, Shoshana

    () (Bar-Ilan University)


This study reviews and evaluates the intertwined relationship between immigration and religiosity, focusing on the two sides of the Atlantic – Europe and the United States. Based on the existing literature and on a statistical analysis of several data sets (the International Social Survey Program – ISSP: Module Religion, 2008; the European Social Survey – ESS, waves 2002-2010; and the General Social Survey – GSS, waves 2002-2010) the following aspects are explored: (i) the current religious landscape of Europe and of the United States and projections for the future; (ii) religiosity of immigrants (in Europe and the United States): are they more religious than the native populations (in terms of church attendance and of prayer habits)?; (iii) how does religiosity of immigrants affect integration: is it serving as a bridge that smoothens integration into the local population, or as a buffer against the harsh integration process?; and (iv) are the intersections between religiosity and integration different in Europe and in the United States, due to historical differences in the state-religion relationship, immigration policies and concepts? The main findings are the following: (a) immigrants are indeed more religious than the populations in the receiving countries. This fact, combined with higher fertility rates and also a continued inflow of immigrants, will lead to major changes in the religious landscape, both in Europe and in the United States; and (b) while in the united States religiosity of immigrants serves as a bridge between the immigrants and the local population, in Europe it has mainly the function of a buffer and of "balm to the soul".

Suggested Citation

  • García-Muñoz, Teresa & Neuman, Shoshana, 2012. "Is Religiosity of Immigrants a Bridge or a Buffer in the Process of Integration? A Comparative Study of Europe and the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 6384, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6384

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Neuman, Shoshana, 1999. "Aliyah to Israel: Immigration under Conditions of Adversity," IZA Discussion Papers 89, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Ronen Bar-El & Teresa García-Muñoz & Shoshana Neuman & Yossef Tobol, 2013. "The evolution of secularization: cultural transmission, religion and fertility—theory, simulations and evidence," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(3), pages 1129-1174, July.
    3. Edward C. Norton & Hua Wang & Chunrong Ai, 2004. "Computing interaction effects and standard errors in logit and probit models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(2), pages 154-167, June.
    4. Pablo BraÒas-Garza & Shoshana Neuman, 2004. "Analyzing Religiosity within an Economic Framework: The Case of Spanish Catholics," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 5-22, March.
    5. Aleksynska, Mariya & Chiswick, Barry R., 2011. "Religiosity and Migration: Travel into One's Self versus Travel across Cultures," IZA Discussion Papers 5724, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Alberto Bisin & Eleonora Patacchini & Thierry Verdier & Yves Zenou, 2008. "Are Muslim Immigrants Different in Terms of Cultural Integration?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 445-456, 04-05.
    7. Dustmann, Christian & Frattini, Tommaso, 2011. "Immigration: The European Experience," IZA Discussion Papers 6261, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Neeraj Kaushal & Robert Kaestner & Cordelia Reimers, 2007. "Labor Market Effects of September 11th on Arab and Muslim Residents of the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
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    11. Claire L. Adida & David D. Laitin & Marie-Anne Valfort, 2016. "?One Muslim is Enough!? Evidence from a Field Experiment in France," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 121-122, pages 121-160.
    12. Chiswick, Carmel U., 2003. "Immigrant Religious Adjustment: An Economic Approach to Jewish Migrations," IZA Discussion Papers 863, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Anne Goujon & Katrin Fliegenschnee & Pawel Strzelecki & Vegard Skirbekk, 2007. "New times, old beliefs: Projecting the future size of religions in Austria," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 5(1), pages 237-270.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cox, James C. & Orman, Wafa Hakim, 2015. "Trust and trustworthiness of immigrants and native-born Americans," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 1-8.

    More about this item


    United States; religion; integration; immigration; Europe;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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